is this a bullet journal?

I mean, yes, I guess so.

So a few years ago, there was this great big hullabaloo about bullet journaling. Mindfulness! Productivity! Organization! Analog thinking in a digital age! Here’s a link to the website.

I loved the idea. I love a lot of ideas–it’s honestly a problem for me, if I’m not careful. But I liked the foundational principle, because I like making lists, and I like checking things off lists. I’d tried methods before, and I had these grand designs for hand-written journals, and deep, perfectly symmetrical notebooks–are you a notebook person? Someone who can’t help but buy those little books at the front of bookstores, and fill them with (ultimately) your best intentions? I’ve gotten better with that; I don’t buy any except the annual bullet journal anymore.

I don’t want you to hear “bullet journal” and think of this:

There’s nothing wrong with the above, if that’s your thing. I have noticed, digging through pages upon pages of “interesting page ideas,” that there’s got to be a lot of pre-formatting that happens with these posts, right? I make mistakes all the time, and it took a long time to just cross out the mistake and keep going; to miss a day or week and pick it back up. I can appreciate the stuff above, but it’s very… manufactured.

I don’t do it in color. I don’t draw. I have pretty straight forward pages. I’m happy with it.

I have monthly pages. This is my monthly tracker–and yeah, I know, I didn’t exercise a lot in the top of the year.

This is what my weekly tracker looks like–I have some tasks every day, I try to mindfully reflect at the end of the day on what was accomplished (left hand margin); I keep notes and little bits of information on the right hand margin, and goals at the bottom right. The goals line up to the Seven Points.

I recommend bullet journaling–it’s simple, it has helped me keep things in line, and I suppose I’m more mindful. I recommend you practice grace with yourself. If you want to do the ornate, full-color, taped up pages, go for it–but I’ve found more success with a pen, going one day at a time.

…upon further reflection–I am really not trashing people who do the very planned, meticulous pages. I do not personally find value in it. But if that is the means and modes of self-expression for you, go for it. I don’t care, so long as it does cause or perpetuate harm, really.

halfway through the third ninth

Project 1827 is an effort to get my life together–whatever that might mean!–as a fortieth birthday present to myself. I turn forty on September 3, 2024, and I gave myself five years, beginning September 3, 2019. So follow me on some of my math and set up:

  • 5 years is 1827 days, with two leap days accounted for in 2020 and 2024.
  • 1827 is 261 weeks. Which is… fine, except it’s divisible (with whole number results) by three/nine and twenty-nine. 29 x 9 = 261; 261 x 7 = 1827. So the five years have been broken into ninths, for purposes of evaluation.
  • 29 is a prime number, though! So twenty-nine weeks is broken into three sections of four weeks, one section of five weeks, and three sections of four weeks. I think my math is right–12 + 5 + 12. And, it approximates a month, but also, not. You can see the list of dates and sections and chunks here, if you wish.

So today is Two and A Half Done, I guess–I am halfway through the third ninth, which began October 13, 2020, and concludes on May 3rd, 2021.

The halfway point of Section One was December 13, 2019. The halfway point of Section Two was July 3rd, 2020. I can kind of piece together a few data points for each of these days.

It was the day after a very big, very good gathering of Elders and their spouses at Brightsong, our house here in Wichita. I had a medical appointment where they told me I weighed too much–around 240 pounds–and that day particularly was a Friday, which I took off, because our Saturday would be packed–B. and I had CPR and First Aid training as a requirement for fostering, and we went shopping for the families we adopted from the church’s angel tree.

I was reading Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, which I loved, and also How to Be Anti-Racist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, which was eye-opening and informative. I was in the process of building goals for 2020.

I was on an exercising streak, having begun in May. I hit 375 on the quest to The Thousand Reps the day before the halfway point, and would get to 500 on July 8, 2020. I was also in the groove for spiritual practice, hitting all seven observations of the Hours.

It was a Friday, and my day off, and I was working on a paper for my first Doctor of Ministry class. I finished Eric Atcheson’s On Earth as It is in Heaven: A Faith-Based Toolkit for Economic Justice and read some of The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton. I also took a long walk.

A Friday, too–there’s no way this always happens on Fridays, is there? I re-wrote a sermon and submitted a paper. Our social worker checked in with us that night and had supper with us–I made a ridiculous chocolate cake. I had the same medical test I had at the halfway point of Section One. I placed a grocery order. I worked out on the elliptical for six minutes.

As a general rule–I am healthier today than I was in July, just as I was healthier in July than I was in December. Exercising and watching what I eat are regular parts of my life. I am thrilled to be doing cardio again–yes, even for six minutes, I’ll get better I promise–and I’ve developed a rhythm in my prayer life, social life (yes, even over Zoom) and, of course, our family’s grown.

Here’s to the halfway point of Section Four, August 13, 2021–a Friday. Okay, it’ll always be Fridays, it seems.

next beginnings

My alarm went off at four forty-five today–I did not kick it from a regular weekday schedule, and I think my phone believes I’ve given up on holidays. (It no longer asks, “Tomorrow is Flag Day (Observed); would you like to forgo your alarm?) I gave my orange cat Copperfield his dose of pain meds, and saw that it was snowing out.

Y’all. I love snow. I wrote about it some yesterday, before the next beginnings of today, because I really love snow. It’s a blank slate. It’s a callback to good days of childhood. It makes the world–at least the world under inches, the world of a few miles–be so intentional and examine their priorities.

As I went back to bed at five a.m., having drugged the cat and thought about doing Vigils (I went to sleep hours past my bedtime, I was groggy), I thought, “Well there goes the Best Morning on the first day of the year.” I promptly let go of that self-criticism, and went back to sleep.

Do you have a morning routine? I’ve developed one in the last six months. Here’s a picture of it, rather than a list:

A picture of a lit candle, full coffee cup, assorted chargers, a smart watch, and four books: A Holy Bible, A Year with Hafiz, The Divine Hours, and a blue journal with a beetle sticker on nit.
Completely staged, but a good representation of what “the opening” entails: coffee, exercise, Hafiz, prayer, scripture and the omnipresent Blue Book. The candle and the sparkling water are bonus.

On what I call best mornings, I rise early. I say prayers, I have coffee, I meditate on Hafiz a little, and I study scripture. I convince myself I should work out, and then do so, trying to negotiate away sets with myself the whole time. I sometimes succeed at stopping early.

This morning, I woke up and stayed in bed a bit. I watched the snow come down with B in a quiet house. I had a bagel and cream cheese a friend of ours shipped from New York. And I still found the time to pray, and do the daily Psalms, and sit with Hafiz, and look out on the next beginning of the next year.

I know a few years ago, I would have considered the year blown by sleeping, or not following a regular order, or not hitting every barely-considered self-made barrier checkpoint from the beginning. Resolutions that don’t have room for failure–repeated failure, complete failure, overt failure, unintentional failure–aren’t resolutions but self-loathing written down in a numbered list.

This is what I know: Today is a new day, just like yesterday was, and just as tomorrow will be. Therefore today I can strive to become more, and maybe through God’s grace and increased discipline, I will. And maybe I won’t–and tomorrow’s a new day.

I needed the snow this morning. It’s really coming down, and though it is supposed to stop at noon, I kind of hope it goes and swirls and falls all day and night. A good reminder for one like me who needs to live in next beginnings.